Get Guides, Case Studies & More Right To Your Inbox!

Photos As “Organic” Promoted Content

Contest Domination Photo Contest Audi R8
Did you know that photos boost social engagement by 120% (source: AllFacebook)? Then you have networks like Pinterest where photos are the only medium to share, period.

As businesses and marketers, we’ve been trying to figure out ways to game this rich format to our advantage. From blending lists of curated, engaging quote photos on Facebook (and sneakily putting in pure ads within an album), to flat out forcing people to like, pin, and tweet photos that are blatantly ads.

But have we been going about it all wrong? Up until now, every form of turning photos into ads has been “interruption marketing”. The content has been painfully obvious as to it’s intent. Even worse, it has been the practice of brands that run Pinterest contests to “force” the user into curating a single Pin Board with a specific name.

How many more flags can we ask users to put up that they are participating in a promotion? I believe as an industry we can do better.

Rethinking Promoted Content

Have we totally missed the boat when it comes to letting users organically share, collect, and organize our most engaging content with a subtle link that we can track? If history has shown us anything, consumers quickly lose tolerance for being forced to abide by whatever brand guidelines a company thinks should exist.

As Scott Stratten of “Unmarketing” eloquently put it.. “Your brand isn’t what your team spent days, weeks or months deciding. It’s whatever the consumer thinks it is.” And I can’t think of a single brand director who genuinely wishes their customer to think their brand is lame, pushy or simply out of touch.

So as businesses and marketers, how can we incentivize consumers to share seemingly organic content in a way that serves our business goals?

Introducing Next Generation Photo Contests

Contest Domination - Photo Contest

Photo Contest Squeeze Page

As many of you know – we’ve built a contest platform called Contest Domination, which is completely focused on generating more qualified leads for businesses, marketers, and agencies. Now, we’re taking that to it’s natural next stage of evolution.

We’ve been very interested in building a photo contest solution, but we knew we didn’t want to follow the rest of the industry in their pursuit of either a popularity contest (vote for me!) or a rigid Pinterest contest that essentially forced everyone who entered to curate photos under one Pin Board that brand dictated.

Instead, we wanted to use our technology and approach to both incentivize users to leverage their influence by rewarding for referral opt-ins as well as give contestants the freedom to share their favorite photos into their Facebook stream or whatever personal Pinterest collection they already add their actual favorite things to.

Incentivized, But Flexible

Convincing your audience to share your content should be easy to understand the benefits, while simultaneously flexible to let your audience “collect” your content in whatever way is meaningful to them.

To accomplish this, we’ve added unique tracking links to each photo that either comes from a gallery that is predefined by the brand or allows the user to upload their own content. The backlinks of each share dynamically creates a new landing page, for which any visitors who also enter the contest through that link significantly improve the odds of winning for original entry.

This is the first time this has been done for photos (that we’ve been able to find), and signals a big step forward to letting your fans engage, collect, and share your content in ways that are much more meaningful than a typical promotion.

Pinterest Photo Contest Image Upload

Image Share & Upload Page

Social Funnels For Maximum Virality

Photos are great, and they are proven to be incredibly engaging – but like all good marketing efforts, a tested funnel can greatly improve the value derived from an initial act of engagement.

We’ve coupled this completely new photo contest approach with our proven social funnel to expand the reach of any photo based campaign. You’ll have complete access to our email referral engine, which is giving most customers an instant 2x-3x growth in the virality of their campaigns.

Pinterest Email Refer

Email Referral

Following the optional email referral, you’ll have access to our standard social share and brand connection page. This will drive more traffic across a contestants different sphere’s of influence in our more traditional text based method. This is also where your most engaged users are going to connect with your brand on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

Pinterest Social Share

Social Sharing & Brand Connections

All of these actions are setup in a way that has a clear benefit to the contestant, benefit the brand but don’t force the standard constraints that other platforms do – which results and a decidedly more authentic look and feel for the content. We’d love to hear your feedback about what your thoughts are on this new approach to photo contests.

If you’re ready to get started with your own photo contest, all premium members have access to it right now at Contest Domination.

Contest Success Thumbnail


  1. This is very exciting, thank you!

  2. This is epic. Can’t wait to start using this!

    • I can’t wait to see you use it! We honestly believe this could be a game changer for people who see the difference in organic vs forced promoted photo content.

      If you’re willing to share your results with the community, we’d love to feature you as a case study as well.

  3. Patrick says:

    When I read stuff like this I’m reminded that when it comes to running contests you guys are like Allstate – we know “we’re in good hands.” Thanks!

    • Glad you feel that way Patrick, that means we are doing our job!

      This is far from the end of what we want to do with the platform, there are still plenty of surprises planned for 2013 🙂

  4. Just tried this out. The jury is still out.
    I will share the results of this contest soon with folks.

Speak Your Mind